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Storing vintage

Someone needs a wardrobe.

  • To keep their shape, and help absorb moisture, stuff shoes with crumpled acid-free tissue.
  • Do not use shoe trees, especially those high-tension sprung steel ones.  They will stretch and distort the leather.  I've seen a beautiful pair of 1920s gold kid shoes irreparably damaged by these, and it wasn't pretty.
  • I read recently that you should apply polish or leather treatment to shoes before storing them in cloth bags.  When you want to wear them, just buff them up and go. Sounds like a good idea to me.

You'd be surprised at what can happen to your clothes when you're not looking!

  • Choose somewhere dry and well-ventilated to keep your clothes.
  • Keep clothes out of daylight.  Prolonged exposure to sunshine can fade colours.
  • Use a hanger that fits the shoulder profile of the garment.  Hangers vary considerably in the angle of the arms and, over time, can distort your garment if not correctly matched.  Plastic, padded and wooden hangers are fine.
  • Heavy garments such as wool coats need wide, shaped hangers to spread the weight.
  • Fasten all buttons, and especially hooks and eyes, before hanging garments in a wardrobe.  It will help prevent distortion and accidental snags.
  • If you're lucky enough to have any 1920s beaded or sequinned dresses, never hang them up.  Store them flat in boxes, with as few folds as possible.  Pad the folds along their entire length with fat, softly scrunched-up rolls of acid-free tissue paper.
  • In fact, that applies to anything you store in boxes - make as few folds as possible, pad the folds with tissue, interleave each garment with sheets of acid-free tissue paper, put the heaviest garments at the bottom working up to the lightest.
  • Clean garments - especially those made of natural fibres such as silk and wool - before storing them.  Moths love 'human' smells.
  • Moths don't love lavender or cedar.  Both of these will make your wardrobe/drawer/box smell divine too.  I'm not claiming that lavender or cedar will prevent moth damage, but they are a deterrent.
  • Check items that have been stored for extended periods at regular intervals for signs of moths or other clothes-chomping pests.
  • Give your clothes a good airing every now and then.  Hang them outside in the breeze, avoiding direct sunlight.  Sturdy garments will benefit from a brisk shake outside to dislodge dust and other debris, and perhaps a brush-over with a soft-bristle clothes brush.

Avoid at all costs
  • Wire coat hangers.
  • Moth balls.  The smell is almost impossible to remove.
  • Plastic garment covers and airtight plastic containers.  These cause condensation, which is a very bad thing.